Three studio movies battle for the top this weekend, with one mean mother poised to win.
"Mama" is an atmospheric horror-thriller, about two little girls who survive in the wild thanks to a supernatural presence that gets awfully protective. That mysterious thing starts wreaking havoc on the lives of the girls' uncle (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau) and his rocker girlfriend (Jessica Chastain), who take the girls in when they are "rescued" from their feral existence. Director Andy Muschietti stirs up some old-school chills, and benefits from having a strong actress like Chastain to flesh out what would otherwise be a typical damsel-in-distress role.
Scheduling issues and Sundance preparations kept The Cricket from seeing the other two movies opening this weekend, but the Tribune's Vince Horiuchi pinch-hit admirably.